Nearly 60,000 people waiting for treatment at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital Trust

Image above: West Middlesex Hospital

Some have been waiting over a year for treatment

More than 58,000 people are waiting for treatment at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Trust, the NHS trust that includes West Middlesex Hospital, according to recent figures published by the NHS. This is a 17% increase from 48,000 people waiting for care in the summer of 2022.

Of those waiting, a total of 1,761 have been waiting longer than a year. The NHS target is for patients to wait no longer than 18 weeks for hospital treatment, but 39% of patients on waiting lists locally are waiting longer than that.

The number of people waiting for treatment across England has increased every single month since Rishi Sunak pledged to cut NHS waiting lists. Since he became Prime Minister, waiting lists have grown by 724,000 patients, to over 7 million.

Image above: Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth Cadbury says figures are “unacceptable”

Ruth Cadbury, the MP for Brentford and Isleworth, condemned successive Conservative Governments for the crisis. Reacting to the new figures, she said:

“It’s simply unacceptable that record numbers of patients locally are waiting for treatment. I’ve heard of people locally having to wait far too long for cancer care and others waiting for treatments or operations that would enable them to return to work.

“So many people are being left in pain and agony because of the long wait for care. For millions of patients across England, the NHS is no longer there for them when they need it.’’

‘‘This is not the fault of our hard-working NHS staff who work tirelessly to keep people safe.  These huge backlogs are solely the fault of Rishi Sunak and the incompetence that we have seen over the past 13 years from successive Governments.’’

‘‘The Prime Minister remains out of touch about the scale of the crisis in the NHS and is leaving patients waiting for care.’’

‘‘I will continue to campaign for the Government to tackle this backlog by recruiting over 10,000 new doctors and nurses, and by supporting existing NHS frontline staff.’’

William Hogarth School retains ‘Good’ Ofsted rating

Local school has now had ‘Good’ rating since 2010

William Hogarth School in Chiswick has retained its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating after a recent inspection.

The inspectors visited at the end of last term and were particularly impressed with personal development of pupils at the school, which they rated as ‘Outstanding’.

The school has now had its ‘Good’ rating since 2010 and it also scored highly in quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, leadership and management and early years provision.

The Headteacher, Avril Stockley, said she was delighted that the inspectors had recognised the ambition and vision behind the school’s unique Learning 2 Lead curriculum, with the inspection team reporting that it was ‘exceptional … [and] encouraged pupils to have the confidence to do what is right rather than following trends’.

Other key strengths recognised in the report were the range of music offered, the priority given to the well-being of staff, pupils and families, the high expectations of the leadership team and a well-designed curriculum, with careful choices regarding what pupils are expected to learn and remember.

Feedback from staff showed that they appreciated working in a positive environment and the inspectors saw that pupils’ good behaviour contributed well to their learning.

Miss Stockley stated that staff and pupils remain determined in their ambition for the school and its pursuit of excellence, she added:

“We plan to build on this success, so that The William Hogarth School is recognised as one of the finest local primary schools.”

The school is holding two upcoming open dates on Friday 20 October at 9.30am and Monday 20 November at 11.00am.

Lib Dems criticise Ealing Council over Town Hall ‘mismanagement’

Image above: Ealing Town Hall

Issue means Labour ‘unfit to govern’ Ealing, say Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have criticised Ealing Council after a recent court case found it had mismanaged the letting of the old Town Hall.

Ealing Council let the Town Hall to Mastcraft for £2.5m on a 250 year lease, excluding local community use. The Town Hall, a grade II listed building, is currently closed due to a lack of fire safety measures which Liberal Democrats said was due to “ongoing neglect” of the Council.

The legal judgement further laid out that a “Community Use Protocol” needed to be agreed initially with Ealing Performance & Arts Centre, Ealing Voice and the Friends of Victoria Hall, as the original purposes of the Trust could not be carried out under the current the spirit of the original gift.

The ruling also said any transaction costs should be undertaken by the Council and not transferred to the community or the charity.

The cost of building Victoria Hall was raised by local public subscription of the community of Ealing when it was originally built for community use over a century ago.  Each Council Tax payer contributes to the upkeep of the Town Hall and other public buildings.

The Liberal Democrats said Labour were unfit to govern in Ealing due to this and other recent infrastructure ‘scandals’ and what they describe as the Council’s failure to engage with local communities. Recently, the demolition and rebuilding of Perceval House was cancelled due to ‘economic viability issues’ and RAAC concrete was found inside Ellen Wilkinson School for girls.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, Opposition Spokesperson on Planning and Housing said:

“The Liberal Democrat opposition party in Ealing congratulate Tony and Will on saving the Victoria Hall for community use. We call on Ealing Council to negotiate with them in good faith.

“The Mastcraft scheme is dead as we have said before and we are calling on the Council to restore the building as an arts centre plus reinstated civic use. The success of the cinema in the former Acton Library is an example of saving a community asset which we must always look to do when Labour-run Ealing Council seem hell-bent on selling off our community assets.”

Image above: Ealing Council offices

Priority is preserve ‘historic’ building, say Ealing Council

Ealing Council issued a statement on 21 September following the result of the Tribunal, which they referred back to when approach for comment by The Chiswick Calendar:

“We are pleased that the Tribunal has accepted the principle of renovating Ealing Town Hall in partnership with a developer to secure its future.

“Ealing Town Hall is over 100 years old and is incredibly expensive to maintain. While we have preserved the building for the people of Ealing as best as we can, it is no longer safe, fit for purpose, or useable by all.

“Having only just received the Tribunal’s findings we are now looking at these in more detail to consider our next steps.

“We acknowledge that we need to do more work to ensure that the Victoria Hall and other public rooms within the Town Hall remain accessible and affordable to the people of Ealing. We will continue to work with the Victoria Hall Trust, the Charity Commission, the Tribunal and others to make this a reality.

“Our priority at all times has been and will remain to preserve the historic, cultural, public and civic uses of this much-loved building, and to secure its future for the century to come.”

Appeal by developer to build luxury riverside houses in Hartington Rd turned down

Image above: 17 Hartington Rd

Planning Inspector finds their proposal would have detracted unacceptably from the character of the area and the risk of flooding was too great

Developers hoping to build four new luxury houses beside the river on Hartington Rd in Chiswick have had their appeal turned down by the Planning Inspectorate.

Councillors on Hounslow Council’s Planning Committee turned down the application by Residence One Hartington Ltd to build the houses in the garden of an existing large Victorian house at 17 Hartington Rd in January last year.

The developers appealed against the committee’s decision and an appeal hearing was held in July. Planning Inspector Jeremy Sargent heard from the developers’ team of experts on why they considered it safe to build there, and from local residents opposing the development, who engaged their own experts to argue the case for why the proposed development should not be allowed.

At issue were whether the development failed to preserve the character or appearance of the Grove Park Conservation Area, whether it would give rise to an unacceptable risk from flooding, and the effect on ecology and biodiversity of the site.

The inspector decided that even though there were different styles of housing along Hartington Rd and the appearance of the road was not uniform, the housing that was proposed would be  ‘appreciably at odds with the extensive area of gardens that runs from No 17 northwards.

‘This would result in it ‘detracting unacceptably from the semi-rural nature of this area and diminishing the contribution it makes to the status of the houses to the front and, in the case of No 17, its historic context’ he found.

He also decided the risk of flooding was unacceptable, which may have a knock-on effect on other riverside development proposals.

Mr Sergeant accepted the evidence that ‘if there were to be a tidal or fluvial flood’ [caused by excess water in the river from rainfall rather than the tide] and there was an inundation, given the existing ground levels the water could be up to 2.59m in depth on part of the site.

Government guidance states that ‘inappropriate development at areas at risk of flooding should be avoided’, he said. ‘To this end, ‘more vulnerable’ uses such as buildings used for dwelling houses
should not be permitted in Flood Zone 3b.’

Much of the argument during the appeal hearing in the summer was about whether the site had been rightly designated as a ‘functional floodplain’. Rather than rely entirely on evidence about historic flooding, Mr Sergeant took into consideration also the potential for future flooding because of the changing conditions of Climate change.

He considered the effectiveness of the river wall along the boundary of the property, and also the effectiveness of the Thames Barrier, but concluded:

‘The effects of climate change are increasingly expected to be more pronounced. As a result, the nature of the defences at this point into the future cannot be certain.’

Even if the land had been wrongly designated and the risk of flooding was, as the developers claimed, less than it appeared, he concluded that there were other, better sites which the developer could choose to build on, which were not at such a risk of flooding, so the proposed development conflicts with the Local Plan, which it is supposed to abide by.

He did not think the development would have affected ecology and biodiversity ‘unacceptably’, though he accepted that a lot of the vegetation and therefore the habitats for wildlife currently there would have had to be removed if the project had gone ahead.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Dumb Money (2023) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Dumb Money ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The story of a group of ordinary people who get rich by turning a video game store into the world’s hottest company. Out in cinemas now.

Dumb Money is the ultimate David vs. Goliath story, based on the astonishing true incident from the very recent 2021, during which a group of everyday people turned a little-known company named GameStop into a global sensation, defying the rules of Wall Street.

GameStop is a video game retailer that had seen better days with the rise of online gaming. The pandemic seemed to seal its fate, and the short-sellers were circling like vultures. Enter Keith Gill, played by the always-talented Paul Dano, a small-time analyst and broker who by night turns into a redditor (here’s a new world I’ve learnt!) and YouTuber, posting videos and engaging on mysterious social platforms that I can’t even pretend to understand.

Gill believes that GameStop stock was undervalued and he starts investing his life savings in it. His enthusiasm triggered a movement among his followers and all of a sudden they all become rich, challenging the established Wall Street system. That is until the billionaires start to fight back.

Dumb Money (apparently that’s the term that hedge fund people call small investors) is fast and dense, outrageously funny and at the same time infuriating. With its constant use of memes, quick editing and strong language it clearly wants to reflect the young and vibrant personalities it’s trying to depict.

It’s easy to draw comparisons to The Big Short from 2015, as both films try to navigate a complicated territory, while at the same time remaining accessible to audiences, using a witty and irreverent approach and a satirical tone to shed light on the madness of the financial world.

As someone who knows very little about the intricacies of finance, I had to strain my brain to keep up with it and to be completely honest, some of it went straight over my head.

In fact, the film knows very well that most of the audience will get lost in some of the financial jargon and cleverly makes the emotional journey of the characters the main focus of the story. So even if you do get a bit confused about the ins and outs of the Wall Street games, you’ll still be able to root for the heroes, get moved, angered and most importantly, laugh.

Director Craig Gillespie, known for his work on I, Tonya, puts viewers in the shoes of the characters, allowing us to experience the thrill of a successful gamble as well as the devastating impact of losing fortunes in a single day. By connecting with the characters on an emotional level, the film successfully navigates through some of the denser details of the story.

The ethics surrounding the GameStop phenomenon are complex too, and Dumb Money doesn’t shy away from this messiness, but of course this is a simplified version of events and it’s easy to see where the director’s sympathies reside: it’s all black and white for us to see and the ultimate goal seems to be to remind us that the game is rigged.

Cheap rhetoric maybe? Possibly yes, but it works perfectly.

The rich will always be rich, so let’s have some fun at their expense. How can you not go along with that?

Although Gill may not be a straightforward modern-day Robin Hood, it’s difficult to have any sympathy for the hedge fund investors at the receiving end of his audacious plan.

The “little people” who are played by several talented actors, including America Ferrera, Talia Ryder, Myha’la Herrold, and Anthony Ramos, (this is a huge cast with many storylines juggled at the same time) perfectly capture the spirit of the online crowd that orchestrated the short squeeze. They’re relatable and sympathetic, while of course, the millionaire and billionaire vultures, like Seth Rogen as Gabe Plotkin and Nick Offerman as Ken Griffin, ooze sliminess.

With a soundtrack full of hip-hop and stylish split-screens and montages, Dumb Money cruises along at a breath-taking pace. It manages to infuse comedy while maintaining an underlying tension throughout. “I wanted it to be like a pressure cooker” said the director in a Q&A which followed my screening of the film. And he certainly succeeds in that.

On top of all this, the eerie backdrop of COVID adds another layer to the film, with masks, empty malls, and desolate streets creating an almost dystopian atmosphere. It’s weird how it feels like a period piece set in the midst of a pandemic and yet, it’s just a few years ago.

But that’s another story, one which we’re all trying to leave behind.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

Dumb Money is out in cinemas across the country.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick Flower Market publishes results of its co-design initiative for Old Market Place

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market

“Excellent detailed suggestions” from local architects added to the proposals

The Flower Market has published the results of its co-design initiative, asking residents what they thought of proposals to improve the area where markets are held in the centre of Chiswick, and to make suggestions of their own.

Many have taken them up on the offer, including a couple of architects who live locally, who have made “excellent detailed suggestions”, say the flower market team, “which have been integrated into the updated plans”.

The updated proposals have now been submitted to Hounslow Council, to be put out to a wider consultation.

The Chiswick Calendar spoke to landscape architect Luke Greysmith, who designed the proposals, in July. You can read our interview with him outlining the proposals here:

READ ALSO: Chiswick Flower Market launches plans for improving Old Market Place

READ ALSO: “Crumbling kerbs, broken paving, poor lighting, dilapidated benches” – the centre of Chiswick needs an upgrade

Essentially, it comes down to more flower beds and “rationalising” the layout to make more effective use of the space, so cars can park there but people can also sit there in more attractive surroundings.

At the moment there are crumbling kerbs, broken paving, poor lighting and dilapidated benches, and the place is littered with redundant objects which no longer serve any purpose, such as the empty telephone boxes and broken cobblestones outside the old police station.

Images above: The crumbling infrastructure of the existing car park

Flower Market team want their redesign to be implemented at the same time as the old police station is redeveloped

The police station is about to be redeveloped as living accommodation for older people and the flower market teams hopes that their proposals can be implemented at the same time as the old police station is knocked down and the new development built, giving the whole area outside the shops alongside the George IV pub a new look and feel.

They published their proposals at the beginning of July and since then have been inviting responses, suggestions and criticisms at the flower markets, in social media, and in the local press, with a display also in the library .

The team has received 356 written responses, of which they say the vast majority were very positive.

‘People acknowledged the urgent need for improvement, and 73% requested further greening measures. The proposed rain gardens were the most popular feature, followed by planters and benches.’

Peter Murray OBE, local resident, co-founder  of New London Architecture and a former Mayor’s Design Advocate, had this to say:

‘I fully support the Flower Market’s proposals for the improvement of the public space and car parking on Old Market Place.

‘The generous width of Chiswick High Road and the set back of the buildings to its south create what is, in effect, a town square for Chiswick, yet until now little attempt has been made to design an amenable place for people.

‘These well-considered proposals will create a greener space, provide sustainable urban drainage and accommodate the weekly markets while not inconveniencing those who wish to shop by car during the rest of the week.’

Torin Douglas, Director of the Chiswick Book Festival, added:

‘I fully support the Flower Market’s imaginative proposals for improving the public space and car parking on Old Market Place. The markets have transformed life in Chiswick on Sundays but are
hampered and let down by the run-down infrastructure on Chiswick High Road.

‘These well considered proposals will create a greener space, provide sustainable urban drainage and accommodate the weekly markets while not inconveniencing those who wish to shop by car during the rest of the week.

‘At a time when Chiswick’s attractions are increasingly recognised nationally and internationally, in The Times, the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, these plans would result in major improvements to the area.’

Honor Barratt, Chief Executive, Birchgrove (Redeveloping the old police station site), wrote:

‘Imagine if we actually managed to pull this off; the Old Market Place would genuinely become a community space for future generations in the way it always was for past generations.’

Taking away too much parking?

The proposals have been welcomed by both passers-by and professionals who specialise in urban landscaping, with comments on everything from the seating to the colour of the bricks.

While some said we should do away with parking altogether in the centre of Chiswick, others expressed their concern that the proposals would take away too much parking, which Chiswick Flower Market director Ollie Saunders denies:

‘There was some concern that we are intending to remove all parking places. We are not. The current proposals do, however, suggest a reduction in the number of parking places. Our High Streets have changed.

‘We don’t need to read the research (which we have!) to know that many of us shop online, that many of us have heavy items delivered, that there is a climate and pollution emergency, that there is a biodiversity crisis, that our urban landscape is subject to sudden flooding as rainstorms become fiercer, that trees can help to ease the heat island effect.

‘In order for High Streets to remain relevant and successful, they need to provide a welcoming environment with clean air, safe and pleasant places to sit and meet friends, interesting and useful shops, as well as offering efficient and non-polluting transport solutions.

‘A parking survey will be carried out before any changes are made so that we are not relying on anecdotal evidence to make decisions.’

There were many comments saying the flower market team had been too timid, that the area in front of the old police station would still predominantly be tarmac, and that they should provide more greenery.

‘We have taken this on board’ they say. ‘We also consulted additionally with people with visual impairment and disabilities and have made modifications accordingly.’

Image above: Consulting the Chiswick public at the Flower Market

‘Multifunctional urban design of this quality and inclusivity is rarely seen’

Dr Tilly Collins, FRES, Senior Fellow & Deputy Director, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London was full of praise for the proposals:

‘The designs for renovating Old Market Place are excellent. These will bring greater biodiversity, provide nature-based ecosystem services and enhance the ways in which the space can be used for residents and visitors. Multifunctional urban design of this quality and inclusivity is rarely seen.’

Marie Rabouhans, Chair, West Chiswick & Gunnersbury Society, who has become an expert in urban development by scrutinising the plans of developers for successive proposals for Chiswick Roundabout, the B&Q site and the M4 corridor through Brentford into Chiswick, had this to say:

‘Looking forward to the improvements to this place in the heart of Chiswick – the greener the better.’

Create Streets, a high-profile independent organisation dealing with the public realm, urban landscapes and place-making, compiled the results of the flower market’s initial consultations with the public.

Throughout the process they have been working in partnership with various departments of the Council, which will now review the proposals and put them out to wider consultation.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Brentford 1, Everton 3

Off to a bad start with Schade injured in the warm up

Third Season … Second Defeat

The first omen of the day arrived in the match programme, where Alex Lawes warned that beating struggling Everton might not be as straightforward as form and the League table suggest. Then, in the warm-up, Kevin Schade took a tumble and received treatment on the pitch before disappearing at a limp towards the dressing room. Uh, oh!

If one was to count the devastating injury suffered by Rico Henry at Newcastle, this made a hat-trick of bad luck (a quartet if including the renewed injury problem of Ben Mee), which as anyone’s superstitious mum would tell them, signalled potential disaster. Never doubt the foresight of those superstitious mothers.

When the football got underway, it was as bad as it has been in the Bees’ two-and-a-bit years in the top flight, even if the sound of the kick-off whistle had barely faded before a splendid run down the left by Aaron Hickey ended only when ex-England international Ashley Young dumped him effectively, but illegally, on to the turf. Most encouraging for the home crowd, but it was a long haul to the next occasion when Hickey or any other Brentford player caused the Everton defence any disquiet.

Storm clouds gather over the Gtech

Everton, on the other hand, seemed to be punching holes in the home defence at will and six minutes from the start went into the lead. Abdoulaye Doucouré, hard to pronounce but a classy performer, had already burst through a defence as if it was made of paper and, blow me, he did it again, this time beating Mark Flekken with a radar-accurate shot inside the far post.

Doucouré almost repeated the exercise, rattling the crossbar, before Brentford bounced back. Well, not exactly bounced, but produced a flash of class that saw Vitaly Janelt’s accurate pass find Matthias Jensen in position to clip the ball into goal with the help of a post. A long examination of VAR ended with confirmation of the goal’s validity.

What a different a goal makes, we thought, as Brentford eased their way back into the game, but after the break Everton resumed their dominance. With the Bees having to overcome bouts of collywobbles every time the visitors broke out of their own half, it became more likely that of the two sides it was Everton that were the best bet to score again.

Keeping spirits up

Sure enough, on 66 minutes they did so, rubbing in the indignity of a probable home defeat by having captain James Tarkowski – his determined campaign to win departure from this parish to join Burnley all those years ago still rankles with Bees’ fans with long memories – to win the ball unchallenged and head it powerfully and accurately wide of Flekken,

By now the Everton supporters were whipping themselves into a frenzy of singing and chanting, Brentford, on the other hand, restricted themselves to  cries of frustration and increasing shuffling of the feet that was to signal the departure of many before the end – a rarity seldom scene witnessed at the Gtech Community Stadium in its young life.

The shuffling of substitutes, frequently a ploy that produces recovery for the master of the craft, Thomas Frank, made little difference to the balance of play. Indeed, Everton, without a victory to their name prior to this visit, notched up a third goal, poached by Dominic Calvert-Lewis, himself a sub and a classy one at that.

Of the Bees, only Saman Ghoddos, tossed into the fray a couple of minutes after Everton’s third, tested the visitors as they coasted to a three-point victory. Ivan Toney, halfway through his suspension, was at the match with rumours of impending departure in the New Year swirling around him.

Arsenal visit the Gtech this week for an EFL Cup-tie; then Brentford play away at Nottingham Forest – one point and one place above them in the League table. Suddenly, the horizon looks bleak.

Collins attempts to intercept Beto’s header

‘We played badly,’ said Frank, an honest man, after the defeat.

‘We struggled to do get to grips with the basics,’ said captain Christian Nørgaard.

‘Don’t ask!’ said my mate Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Roerslev (substitute Ajer 61), Collins, Pinnock, Hickey (sub Ghoddos 72); Jensen, Nørgaard, Janelt (sub Onyeka 73); Mbeumo, Wissa, Lewis-Potter (sub Olakigbe 89).

Everton: Pickford; Young, Tarkowski, Branthwaite, Mykolenko; Garner, Onana (sub Danjuma 77), Gueye, McNeil; Doucouré, Gomes (sub Calvert-Lewin 63).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor for the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

The Simple Tale of a Cycle Lane: Jewel Heists to the Luftwaffe

Image above: C9, Chiswick High Rd

Guest blog by Michael Robinson on the final, final decision on the installation of the cycle lane through Chiswick High Rd

C9, the cycle way which comes through Chiswick High Rd, has has its last and final sign off by Hounslow Council. The debate surrounding its installation has caused more division in Chiswick than any other localised topic in recent memory.

Eight Conservative councillors, six of them Chiswick councillors (excluding Cllr Jack Emsley, who didn’t see the point, and Joanna Biddolph who didn’t get a vote because she sits on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee herself), made a last ditch attempt to get Hounslow’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee to make the Cabinet reconsider, but the attempt failed and the interminable  installation and the various stages of consultation are now complete.

Michael Robinson, from Hounslow Cycling Campaign, has written this guest blog for The Chiswick Calendar, documenting C9’s tortuous gestation and how it has been a political football from the get-go.

Prologue

In January 2001, 20-year old Marie Fox was killed after being crushed by a lorry when cycling on the Kew Bridge section of Chiswick High Road. Chiswick Conservative councillor Paul Lynch said:

“The tragic waste of Marie’s young life in an avoidable accident, highlights the urgency of this issue. I have therefore asked the mayor to make a quick decision on the measures and suggested that he use the borough to pilot these measures.”

It would take eighteen years before the road where Marie Fox was crushed to death was made safe.

Local politicians and clergymen would fight against the installation of a bike lane. It was claimed it would do more harm to the Catholic Church on Chiswick High Rd than the wartime bombing had done, while councillors predicted the destruction of “the village” of Chiswick.

Cycle Super Highway Routes from the May 2009 Launch

Birth of the Superhighway

The local political scene of 2009 was the reverse of today’s – a Labour government, Conservative Mayor of London and a Conservative / Independent coalition in control of the London Borough of Hounslow, led by current Chiswick councillor, Conservative Peter Thompson.

In May 2009 Mayor Boris Johnson launched his ‘Cycle Superhighway’ programme in typically bumptious fashion, saying:

“I’m not kidding when I say that I’m militant about cycling, and these Superhighways are central to the cycling revolution I’m determined to bring about. […] on these routes the bicycle will dominate and that will be clear to all others using them.”

Transport for London was responsible for these planned routes. Cycle lanes were to radiate out from central London like the hands of a clock; the route to the west from Hyde Park to Heathrow was at 9 o’clock, hence ‘Cycle Superhighway 9’.

Following the launch, the then head of transport at Hounslow successfully lobbied TfL to change the planned route away from the A4 west of Chiswick roundabout to the A315 with the objective of connecting the town centres in the borough. Several years later, the planned route was also changed away from the western section of Chiswick High Road to use Heathfield Terrace and Wellesley Road.

Opening Shots

Wellesley Road and the parallel Stile Hall Gardens formed a rat run between Chiswick High Road and the South Circular, and were frequently jammed with stationary queuing traffic. In September 2016 a consultation was launched and the majority responded in favour of closing these streets to through traffic.

From 2009 to 2016 desultory conversations had taken place about the route, but Chiswick councillors had taken little interest. Now suddenly the penny dropped that these measures might make it more difficult to drive, so they demanded further investigations.

CS9 Arrives

In September 2017, a mere eight years after being launched, detailed plans for Cycle Superhighway were published. Local media immediately went into overdrive with clickbait headlines:

“Cycle Superhighway ‘Will Destroy Chiswick’ ” and “Is Chiswick’s Cafe Culture Under Threat from Cycle Superhighway?”

It would “destroy Chiswick as a community” as “fast cyclists with speedometers” sped through.

Fr Michael Dunne of Our Lady of Grace and St Edward announced that it would cause “more harm” than “the Luftwaffe managed with its wartime bombs.” His claims made national headlines. Congregants were asked to pray for salvation from the bike lane:

Spoiler alert – Prayers not answered!

London Assembly member Tony Arbour and Chiswick councillors shot a campaigning video, but their words were drowned out by the roar of passing traffic. The only phrases audible were that Chiswick High Road was “rather like a village high street.” The clip went viral.

Chiswick Councillors carried out a survey which purported to show a suspiciously North Korean level of “over 99% of Chiswick residents against.” With Council elections looming in May 2018, TfL backed away from touching what was now dubbed ‘the Holy Pavement’ outside the Catholic Church.

Image above: Can you hear me at the back?

Wait a year for a consultation and two come along at once

Fast forward to January 2019 with not one but two consultations. The Turnham Green councillors provided general hilarity by objecting to the bike lane on the grounds that it would
“increase local crime (cycles used for snatch thefts and for planned heists from high-value retailers such as jewellers)”.

Also announced was that the moniker ‘Cycle Superhighway’ was no more. The Johnsonian hype was being dialled back and now it would be referred to simply as a ‘Cycleway’.

With a new leader of the Opposition, the determined Cllr Joanna Biddolph, the Chiswick councillors relaunched their campaign. A petition containing all the tropes was launched – the cycle lane would “increase congestion”, “increase pollution”, “cause traffic gridlock”,“damage shops.”

Cllr Biddolph selflessly gave up her summer, standing outside Marks and Spencer every weekend with a banner proclaiming “Last chance to stop CS9”. As things would turn out, this wasn’t her last chance. She would fail to stop it several more times.

Image above: What they did in their summer holidays

At last, a decision!

A decision on Cycleway 9 was scheduled for September 2019 by the Hounslow cabinet. A much-vaunted “protest rally” failed to show up in any number and the prepared banners were quietly binned.

Objectors presented their case. Cllr Biddolph said that she would support a cycle lane down both sides of the High Road, although it is unclear if this was because it would allow her to complain twice as much. A petition, with 5,000 signatures from anti-cycling opponents from all over the country, was handed over. Following the presentations the decision to proceed with the project was unanimously passed.

Construction finally began in October 2019 on the spot where Marie Fox had been killed eighteen years previously.

A pandemic

The 2020 the pandemic halted construction. In May 2020 the Department for Transport launched their Cycling and Walking Strategy to deal with the challenges created by Covid. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Pop-up bike lanes. Wider pavements. Cycle and bus-only streets.[…] fast-tracked statutory guidance, effective immediately.”

The Chiswick councillors issued a statement welcoming the new government policy, saying it was “an opportunity to move on from the controversy in Chiswick about Cycleway 9”.

However, once they realised that the new policy was actually going to be implemented they didn’t move on, instead asking Shapps to stop “the discredited Cycleway-9 scheme.” For the rest of 2020 construction continued on Cycleway 9, using the experimental traffic orders and temporary materials mandated by the government.

Onesies Assemble

As people began to realise that the government’s policies might make it more difficult to drive, protest groups sprang up under the “One” umbrella. Groups like OneLambeth, OneEaling, OneWandsworth and, inevitably, OneChiswick.

Online, people lost perspective. Simon Mabutt, once an unsuccessful UKIP candidate, announced on Next Door that councillors “who agreed the changes needed shooting. I am happy to pull the trigger.”

Chiswick resident Marlene Johnson, fundraiser for OneChiswick, helpfully told him how to find their home addresses. The police were called. Feelings ran high. Councillor Biddolph’s opinion was that “they weren’t even proper death threats”.

Meanwhile the Onesies, as they became known, bombarded councils and TfL with Freedom of Information requests, complained to the local government Ombudsman about befuddlement created by traffic schemes, and instructed their lawyers.

OneChiswick has the distinction of being the least successful of the Onesie groups. While the other Onesies all lost their judicial review claims, at least they got their day in court. OneChiswick failed to achieve even that. Having raised £45,000 they had a date for a hearing in June 2021 but chose to delay it.

As had always been entirely predictable, TfL/Hounslow issued updated traffic orders, rendering their case irrelevant. OneChiswick Ltd was dissolved in February 2022, avoiding the requirement to file accounts at Companies House. What happened to the money is not publicly known.

OneChiswick still exists as an increasingly irrelevant private Facebook group, channelling anti-cycling abuse along with anti-ULEZ and anti-Lime bike postings.

Images above: Children and adults using the cycle lane

What, another consultation?

In June 2021 Hounslow published plans to upgrade the temporary version of Cycleway 9 into permanent designs, accompanied by – yes, guess what – another consultation. We’ve lost count at this stage, but it’s around the sixth or seventh. The entire route through Chiswick was finally completed in January 2023.

Decision déjà vu all over again

The Hounslow cabinet meeting of 5 September 2023 decided to make the Cycleway 9 traffic orders permanent, a mere four years after the decision to proceed with the project. The same old objections that had appeared in Cllr Biddolph’s petition four years earlier came up again and were refuted by evidence – “reduces air quality / causes excess pollution” (air quality improved), “unsafe” (collisions are down), “empty lanes” (numbers cycling are up).

The Hounslow Conservatives indulged Cllr Biddolph, giving her one last opportunity to fail to stop the cycle lane and “call in” the Cabinet decision for review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Committee voted on 21 September that the cabinet decision should stand and Cycleway 9 is permanent bringing the story to an end.

So what was all the fuss about?

So did Cycleway 9 lead to “the destruction of Chiswick High Road” as the objectors claimed? Of course not. Numbers cycling have increased and people on bikes now often outnumber cars at peak times. Pollution has declined since 2019 and while multiple factors affect air quality, the scaremongering claims that cycling would increase pollution have been shown to be nonsense.

Cycleway 9 is becoming part of everyday life in Chiswick. Younger generations are less fixated on cars than parents and grandparents. Historians might look back on this in the same way that we now view campaigners demanding the right to smoke in the tube and in hospitals. An incredible fuss about an obvious reform.

Michael Robinson is Coordinator for Hounslow Cycling, the borough group of London Cycling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Merger of three of Chiswick’s GP practices delayed as patients seek “proper consultation”

Image above: Grove Park Surgery

Patients have not had to opportunity to examine and understand the proposals, say Grove Park Patients’ Group

The merger of three GP practices, expected to go through ‘on the nod’ on Monday (25 September) has been delayed, as patients from the Grove Park Surgery seek “proper consultation.”

The merger of Wellesley Road, Grove Park, and Chiswick Family Doctors surgeries was expected to be rubber stamped at a meeting of the North West London ICS – ‘Integrated Community Care System’, which oversees GPs’ contracts, but Chair of the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group James Armitage told The Chiswick Calendar patients had not had sufficient opportunity to examine or understand what the merger would mean.

The three surgeries want to combine their resources under the banner of the newly formed ‘Chiswick Medical Practice’. Announcing the merger on Thursday 14 September via a text message sent to registered patients of the three practices, patients were supposed to have been informed about the proposed merger, outlining the benefits they could expect, although the Grove Park Surgery patients we have spoken to said they did not receive the text.

The merger, set to streamline and optimise services, promises patients access to a broader range of clinicians, nursing staff, and healthcare assistants. The three practices anticipate offering increased appointment availability, more proactive care, reduced call queues, and improved handling of requests.

Patients would still have the option to be seen by their regular GPs and clinical staff. A single unified website is planned, to provide patients with comprehensive information about Chiswick Medical Practice and its array of services.

Images above: Wellesley Road practice; Computer Generated Image of the new health centre being built at Fisher’s Lane, where Chiswick Family Doctors Practice will be based

“We want to support the surgery, but we are objecting to them steam-rollering it through”

The North West London ICS, in whose area Chiswick’s health services are, met on Monday (25 September) and were expected to rubber stamp the decision, but it has now been held over until the next meeting in three months’ time to allow more time for consultation as a result of the complaint by the Grove Park Surgery Patients Group.

GP surgeries are private entities contracted by the ICS to provide services. Any merger has to be approved by them and patients’ views have to be taken into consideration.

“The papers were prepared last week, seeking approval” James Armitage told us. “We knew there was a merger happening, but we were expecting to be consulted about it.”

The public is allowed to witness meetings of its ICS but not to participate, although the publicised link supposed to enable people to view Monday’s meeting was not working.

Grove Park Surgery has a video on its website explaining the changes and a rudimentary questionnaire, but said Mr Armitage, the video was not informative enough, it was not a “serious” survey, and there was not enough time to answer it.

James Armitage

“As far as I could tell, it was only up for three days before they put their report in.”

The Patients Participation Group at Grove Park, which has a committee of nine people, would like patients to be consulted “properly”, he said.

“I don’t want to stand in their way. I am not qualified to say whether it’s a good or a bad thing. I just want to find out the pros and cons and let people know.”

The NHS requires every practice to have a Patients Participation Group, but part of their problem, Mr Armitage told us, is reaching the 8,000 patients who use Grove Park Surgery.

“We are not representative of patients. That is something we want to address and need their help with. We want to support the surgery, but we are objecting to them steam-rollering it through without seeking opinions.”

Grove Park Surgery currently caters to 8,640 registered patients, according to its current website, and employs seven doctors. Wellesley Road serves 7,843 patients with six GPs, while Chiswick Family Doctors Practice looks after 4,593 patients and has three doctors. With the merger, the combined practice would be managing the healthcare needs of approximately 20,000 people.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick resident left “hopeless” in face of council’s response to damp and mould in her flat

Image above: Mould in Sahra’s kitchen, mould in Sahra’s living room

Single mother says she is anxious about her children’s health because of ongoing mould problem in her Chiswick home

A long-standing Chiswick resident, Sahra Beyle, has said she has been left “hopeless” in the face of persistent issues with mould and damp in her council-allocated home, which she says is seriously affecting her and her children’s physical and mental health.

Sahra, a single mother raising two children, who has lived in Chiswick for 23 years, reported mould and damp in one of her rooms to Hounslow Council about six months ago. She and her two children live in a one-bedroom flat.

Initially they scheduled a repair appointment for October, but after the intervention of Conservative councillor for Chiswick Homefields Jack Emsley, the repairs were rescheduled sooner. Both appointments were later cancelled at short notice.

The mould is causing health issues for Sahra and her family, particularly her son.

“My son is still unwell and didn’t go to school since Wednesday, he’s forever coughing” Sahra told The Chiswick Calendar.

Their GP has prescribed him an inhaler and he may be at risk of developing asthma.

The council initially offered alternative accommodation, situate about 20 miles away at the other end of the borough, which would have made it impossible for her children to continue attending their school in Chiswick.

When Sahra requested closer accommodation, the council told her she could accept the distant housing or face suspension from the housing list.

 

Above: YouTube video showing the extent of the mould in Sahra’s home

Sahra left “with debt and stress” 

Despite Sahra’s persistent efforts to report the issue, she has faced delays and frustrations. Sahra has taken time off work to accommodate workers sent from Lampton 360, the council-owned company to fix the mould, but workers have cancelled with short notice three times over the last three months meaning Sahra has taken time off work and lost money for nothing.

Even when they did arrive, she says they did not do the job properly:

“Two of them came over and it was crazy they didn’t even know what to do… All they did was remove the black marks… they were supposed to come back the next day and do the anti-mould paint… that never happened and I waited the whole day. Now I have to do everything all on my own”.

“It’s hopeless” Sahra said, through tears.  “I have to borrow money to get all the paint and gloss… I am now left with debt and stress”.

Sahra’s next planned appointment to fix the mould was for Tuesday 31 October, which the Council say they are able to bring forward to Thursday 5 October. She will again take time off work and hope the workers will turn up and do the job properly.

Images above: Cllr Jack Emsley, mould pictured in other council-owned properties in Chiswick

Backlog of outstanding repairs has increased dramatically in a year

Cllr Emsley told The Chiswick Calendar there has been a significant increase in Hounslow’s housing maintenance backlog, which was revealed in the year-end report by Lampton 360, the organisation responsible for repairs in Hounslow.

The report showed a substantial rise in outstanding repairs, he said, increasing from 57 in 2021/2022 to more than 1,200 in 2022/2023, more than 20 times as many in the space of just a year.

He acknowledged the resource limitations within the housing department but called for a comprehensive review of the Lampton 360 contract. He stressed the need for improved efficiency in managing repairs and maintenance, suggesting the possibility of bringing these services in-house or exploring private contractors.

“When you’ve got a mum and two kids who are living in a substandard house, you have to do better than give them the six month timeframe. You can’t ask her to stay off of work on a possibility, I mean the amount of times the maintenance company has cancelled on Sahra when she’s taken time off work and stayed at home.”

“This is a recurring theme, so we spoke at length about this on the housing scrutiny panel last year. We spent quite a long time looking at this on council homes. My inbox is full of examples like this… lots of other Chiswick councillors are the same. The problem isn’t necessarily with the housing itself, the problem is with the housing department.”

Images above: Hounslow House, Cllr Sue Sampson

Hounslow Council say they are “committed to ensuring that residents live in safe, healthy and decent homes”

We asked Hounslow Council for their response to Sahra’s predicament and the general increase in the backlog of housing problems.

Councillor Sue Sampson, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness at Hounslow Council told us:

“We understand our tenants’ concern regarding damp and mould in their property and will work closely with them to quickly reach a positive resolution and ensure damp and mould is removed from their home. 

“Hounslow is committed to ensuring that residents live in safe, healthy and decent homes and to drive this forward we pledged an additional £1million to urgently address damp and mould issues.

“This funding has enabled us to set up a dedicated healthy homes taskforce, with a detailed action plan for clearing the backlog of repairs and will improve the data captured on cases in the borough to ensure resources can be prioritised for specific areas or cases. 

“Alongside investing in improvements to our housing stock, the heathy homes taskforce will equip tenants with the tools to work with us to prevent and manage condensation, damp and mould in their homes.

“Tackling the problem early is vital for preventing any harmful health impacts and we will be providing simple up-to-date information and advice, including a new guide, workshops and home visits.”

The Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove wrote to housing providers at the end of January requiring them to provide an urgent review into the housing conditions for private and social tenants.

His letter was prompted by the death of Awaab Ishak, the two year old who died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by “extensive” mould in a one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents, Faisal Abdullah and Aisha Amin, in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

READ ALSO: LB Hounslow to spend an extra £1m on tackling damp and mould in council homes

Hounslow Council said they have a “comprehensive process” in place to enable the Council and its customers (residents) to speed up reporting, diagnosing, and dealing with issues of condensation and damp within its properties.

They said their Contact Centre triage calls to establish possible causes of the condensation, damp and mould (based on a specific set of questions). Thereafter, the Council say they ensure a job is raised with the appropriate trade via their Responsive Repairs team or their Healthy Homes Taskforce.

Volunteers needed to asses wet wipe ‘island’ in River Thames

Image above: A previous Wet Wipe Count

Wet wipe mound could ‘change the flow of the River Thames’

Thames21, the charity dedicated to enhancing London’s waterways, is once again extending an invitation to resilient volunteers to roll up their sleeves to asses the wet wipe mound accumulating near Hammersmith Bridge in the River Thames.

The Big Wet Wipe Count is scheduled for Sunday, 1 October, from 10.00am to 2.00pm,

The situation on the south side of the bridge has reached grotesque proportions, now resembling an island of wet wipes spanning an area as large as two tennis courts. Christened “Wet Wipe Island,” the accumulation not only poses a threat to the river’s health but there are fears it could potentially alter the course of the river.

Thames21 said:

“Every time it rains in London, the sewers overflow which means the wet wipes that people flush down the loo end up in the river. The problem is now so bad that hundreds of thousands are depositing on the riverbed.

“To assess the scale of the problem, we are looking for volunteers to survey the wet wipes on the foreshore and record the final number.”

Image above: Scan of the mound – which accumulates yearly – in 2021

Book your place online now

Last year’s count attracted over 50 volunteers, with local MPs, Hammersmith’s Andy Slaughter and Putney’s Fleur Anderson lending their support in tackling what Mr. Slaughter described afterwards as “the Quatermass-style horror that is Wet Wipe Island”.

Anyone is welcome to join the event but the activity is not suitable for those under ten years of age, and children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

The count is scheduled to occur at the south side of Hammersmith Bridge, specifically at the intersection of Castlenau and Riverview Gardens.

To book your place, click here.

Additionally, Thames21 is in search of ten volunteer team leaders, responsible for overseeing each survey transect. Those up for the challenge can reach out to felicity.rhodes@thames21.org.uk for more details.

Ealing woman who planned to blow herself up handed 20 month prison sentence

Image above: Ewa Daszuta

Judge says case was “highly unusual, if not unique” 

A woman from Ealing has been handed a 20-month prison sentence at Isleworth Crown Court on Wednesday (20 September) after being found in possession of materials used to create an explosive device.

The judge presiding over the case, His Honour Judge Nicholas Wood, characterised the circumstances surrounding the case as “highly unusual, if not unique.” The court found that Ewa Daszuta, rather than intending to harm members of the public, had planned to end her own life during a period of mental instability.

The court heard that Daszuta had legally purchased chemicals online typically used for fertilisation and for preserving meat. Initially, she claimed these substances were acquired for her gardening business. On 25 May she pleaded guilty to possessing explosive materials with the intent to endanger life at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court.

The shocking discovery was made during a visit by a care coordinator from Ealing’s mental health team on 25 February.

During an earlier visit on 23 February, Daszuta had made concerning statements about wanting to experiment with explosives, and mentioned the far right terrorist Anders Breivik from Norway, who killed eight people in July 2011 by detonating a bomb in a van in Oslo, then killed 69 participants of a Workers’ Youth League summer camp in a mass shooting on the island of Utøya.

The care coordinator, aware of Daszuta’s history of suicide attempts, observed a “noticeable difference” in her behaviour during the February 25 visit.

In response to the coordinator’s questions about whether her plans may have hurt others, Daszuta replied, “Yes, maybe.” The situation escalated when Daszuta unveiled two bags containing different chemicals, causing the care coordinator to fear for her own safety.

Ewa Daszuta

“Very difficult sentence and case to consider” says Judge

Each bag held various chemicals, and Daszuta disclosed the existence of another bag containing charcoal in a nearby car. The care coordinator promptly called the police.

Explosives expert Julian Mills testified that the materials in Daszuta’s possession could be used to make gunpowder.

The court had to determine whether Daszuta intended to harm only herself or pose a danger to the public with her unusual suicide plot. After hearing submissions from the prosecution, defence, and multiple witnesses, Judge Wood gave her “the benefit of the doubt” and ruled that she had only acquired the materials with the intent to endanger her own life, not that of others.

Judge Wood considered several factors, including Daszuta’s use of alcohol, cocaine, and cannabis at the time she purchased the materials, as well as her careful planning. He also took into account Daszuta’s deteriorating mental health, as confirmed by consultant forensic psychologist Dr. Alexandra Cappai. A probation report indicated that Daszuta posed a low risk of harm to others.

“I want to make it clear this is a sentence based on unheard of circumstances. This should not be taken as any guidance or make for cases under Section 3 [of the 1883 Act]. It is worlds apart from anything,” Judge Wood said. “What I have found, personally, a very difficult sentence and case to consider.”

Ewa Daszuta has been sentenced to 20 months in prison, of which she will serve half. Having already spent approximately seven months on remand, she is expected to be released on license towards the end of this year.

Parents outraged at plans to close Falcons pre-prep school

Image above: Falcons Pre-prep School at Burnaby Gardens

Parents say they have been given less than a term’s notice of plans

Parents of boys at the Falcons Pre-Preparatory School in Grove Park have reacted with fury at plans to close the school at short notice. They were informed just a few days into the current term that the owners are launching a consultation about shutting the school in December.

The school is currently being operated by Alpha Plus, a company owned by property investor Sir John Ritblat, who founded British Land, but it is in the process of being sold to multinational education provider Inspired Education.

It is not clear which party to the transaction initiated the planned sale of the Chiswick site on Burnaby Gardens, but Alpha Plus have said the decision to close the school was down to falling enrolment and Inspired Education have said the proper legal process was being followed and the well-being of the children was being considered.

The letter informing parents of the decision was sent to the 60 families with children at the school on Thursday 7 September, the second day of term. It came from the Alpha Plus group, which runs seventeen other schools and colleges across London and did not give details of what other options were being considered. Thus far, parents say Alpha Plus has refused to meet with them.

On the same day, all 30 staff received notice that they were subject to possible redundancy.

Parents at the school believe a December closure would be in breach of the contract to give a full term’s notice, and they are looking at taking separate legal action with a view to forcing the school to remain open until the end of the academic year, which would allow them to find alternative schools for their children.

Places have been offered at Alpha Plus school in Putney and Fulham, but the majority of parents are expected to reject this option. Alpha Plus has also offered to provide a bus for nursery-aged children to alternative sites.

Image above: Pupils at Falcon’s pre-prep school for boys

Closure plans are “an egregious example of corporate greed”, say parents

The parents have contacted Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury, the Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, and the Markets and Competition Authority asking them to investigate the decision, including the possibility of whether there may have been unlawful pre-merger coordination between the parties to a transaction.

Parents at the school have issued a statement saying:

‘This is an egregious example of corporate greed. It is scandalous that children have been given a matter of weeks to find new schools, which is causing huge anxiety and upset.

‘We are calling for a full investigation by the regulator into these two companies and for the Education Secretary to instruct the school to remain open until the end of the academic year. It’s also clear that the independent school sector clearly cannot regulate itself and act in a fit and proper manner.

‘So that this doesn’t happen elsewhere, the government needs to introduce clear legislative safeguards to better protect children in cases like this. Education should not be treated as just another commodity.

‘We would say to anyone thinking of sending their child to an Inspired Education or Alpha Plus school – don’t. It’s clear that they are simply interested in maximizing profit over the well-being and education of children.’

Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth Cadbury, Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth, said:
“I was extremely concerned to hear that my constituents and parents across west London face the risk of seeing a popular and well-loved school closing at such short notice.

“I am very disappointed that it appears that there has not been proper and thorough engagement with either parents, school staff, and the local authority about this proposed closure, and the huge impact it would have on our community.

“I will be writing to the school as a matter of urgency to raise this matter and to ask a series of important questions.”

The Education Secretary has not yet commented.

Mark Hanley-Browne

Decision to close school due to falling enrolment, says Alpha Plus chief exec

Mark Hanley-Browne, the chief executive of Alpha Plus, claimed that the decision to close the school was down to falling enrolment with just 62 pupils, around a third of the school’s capacity. He added:

“Although the school is undoubtedly much loved by those parents whose children are attending the school, not enough parents in the Chiswick area have been choosing this school.

“It’s important to stress that the consultation is ongoing and that we are listening carefully to the views of parents and staff.

“We have made not one but two proposals of alternative schools, with a free bus service running between Chiswick and Putney or Fulham. Furthermore, we committed to providing guaranteed places at other Alpha Plus schools in London, should the school be closed, although, to be clear, no decision has been taken thus far.”

An Inspired Education spokesman said:

“While we appreciate that this will be an unsettling time for the school, it is important to clarify that Inspired has yet to take ownership of any Alpha Plus schools and that there are absolutely no conditions in the transaction that involve the closure of any schools.

“Irrespective of ownership, our concern is that the proper legal process is followed and the well-being of all individuals involved.”

Sir John Ritblat said:

“As chairman of Alpha Plus, I am, along with the rest of the board, of course saddened that pupils and parents have been caused distress by the consultation on a potential closure of this much-loved school.

“It is always a very difficult decision to consider closing a school, particularly for a company such as Alpha Plus, which has always prided itself on a commitment to only the very best in education and welfare standards, and to giving every child in its care the best possible start in life.

“I hope parents will understand that we took the decision to launch the consultation because a school with around 60 children in it, from age two to seven, is potentially no longer educationally viable.

“We have followed procedures, and the decision to consult categorically has nothing to do with any other outside factors.

“The decision to launch this consultation arises simply because there are just not enough pupils signing up to the school, given the competition in the local area.”

Council slams PM’s changes to net zero plans

Image above: Rishi Sunak a Wednesday’s press conference in Downing Street

Hounslow Council “perplexed and deeply disappointed” by Rishi Sunak’s “abandonment of key pledges”

Hounslow Council has said it is “perplexed and deeply disappointed” in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s proposals to abandon key pledges to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

In a press conference on Wednesday (21 September), the Prime Minister announced a flurry of U-turns on climate targets – pushing back the ban on purchasing new petrol cars from 2030 to 2035 and delaying the target of eliminating gas boilers.

The move was condemned by industry figures, including the chair of Ford UK, as well as some senior Conservative figures including Boris Johnson and the former environment minister Zac Goldsmith.

The Prime Minister has struggled to provide an explanation for claims he had scrapped measures critics said had never seriously been mooted, such as an tax on meat, compulsory car sharing and forcing households to use seven recycling bins.

Councillor Shantanu Rajawat, Leader of Hounslow Council and Councillor Katherine Dunne, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Climate, Environment and Transport, have issued a joint statement in response to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s net zero announcement.

Images above: Leader of Hounslow Council Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, Deputy Leader Cllr Katherine Dunne

“Climate catastrophe is an immediate and ever-growing threat”

Cllr Rajawat and Cllr Dunne’s statement in full says:

“The climate crisis is the single largest threat to our natural environment and societies, with severe consequences already on display in London, and across the globe. As such, delivering a cleaner, greener, more sustainable borough will always be a top priority for Hounslow Council.

“This week’s announcement from the Government, which sets out plans to back track and weaken the UK’s net zero ambitions, has left us perplexed and deeply disappointed.

“As a local authority, we recognise that the climate catastrophe is an immediate and ever-growing threat and that’s why within our own power, we’re striving to deliver bold plans to achieve net zero carbon in Hounslow by 2030.

“However, we cannot tackle the climate crisis alone. To make a real impact, it must involve action at a national level, underpinned by an ambitious delivery of projects and funding. We must move projects at pace if we are to reduce carbon emissions at the scale required and we need the funding to back these plans.

“Taking little or no action impacts those on lower incomes the most, and with cost-of-living challenges growing, we must act now to support our residents and communities in the future. We can start by creating energy efficient homes, a cleaner environment, and new opportunities with green jobs, training, and skills.

“We have called on Government on numerous occasions to take more incisive action, and each day the call becomes more urgent. Each year we have new, and devastating examples of the climate emergency worldwide, whether they be extreme heat and wildfires, floods, or droughts. These events should be serving as a stark reminder that governments should be accelerating climate action, and categorically should not be extending timelines, relaxing deadlines, and cutting down on resource.

“Many local authorities across the capital are working tirelessly to meet London-wide net zero by 2030 targets, and it is saddening to see a change in gear by the Government to accelerate away from zero carbon, and not towards it.

“The delaying of the impending 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles and relaxing the migration from gas boilers to lower-carbon alternatives are just two examples from the latest announcement that demonstrate a clear commitment to watering down the UK’s net zero policies.

“Stuttering over our nation’s commitment to a more sustainable national and global system will have a longer-term detrimental impact on the UK economy, and ultimately will jeopardise worldwide investment into green technologies.

“Hounslow Council is committed to action; we must be doers, not delayers. We strongly urge the Prime Minister to reconsider his latest plans to backtrack on the UK’s climate pledges. The health of our planet, and of all future generations is at stake.”

The Queen – Q&A with Sir Stephen Frears, Andy Harries and Christine Langan

Meet some of the most powerful and successful people in the British Film & TV industries at the Chiswick In Film festival

This year’s Chiswick In Film festival is upon us. The opening event is this Friday, 29 September – a screening of The Queen followed by a Q&A with the director Sir Stephen Frears and two of the producers, Andy Harries and Christine Langan – collectively some of the most powerful and successful people in the British film and television industries.

We are delighted to have such extraordinary access to the creative team behind the film, for which Dame Helen Mirren won the Oscar for Best Actress. All three were themselves nominated for Academy Awards. The film received six nominations in total, including one for Best Picture.

The Queen portrays Queen Elizabeth II at one of the most vulnerable points of her reign, when it was felt the royal family had lost their way. When she died last year it was evident there was a huge amount of love and respect for Queen Elizabeth II personally as monarch, but The Queen deals with the period following Princess Diana’s death and how the royal family responded to it, when she was portrayed in the media as being cold and unfeeling and out of touch with her people for the lack of public emotional response during the first week after Diana’s death.

While the crowds surged around Buckingham Palace leaving mountains of flowers, Helen Mirren portrays a queen completely baffled by the tsunami of public grief and stuck in tradition and protocol, unable to grasp that this was something unprecedented that required a suitably public response.

The film shows how Tony Blair, newly elected with a landslide majority, put pressure on royal family to abandon plans for a private funeral and make it a big pubic event, to fly the royal standard at half mast over Buckingham Palace and to come down from their estate at Balmoral to meet and mingle with the public and pay tribute to the mother of the future king, even if she and Prince Charles had been acrimoniously divorced.

Images above: Andy Harries; Christine Langan; Sir Stephen Frears

Discuss the film with its creators

After the film screening at 7.30pm I’ll be talking to producers Andy Harries and Christine Langan and director Sir Stephen Frears and they will be taking questions from the audience.

Andy Harries as been producing film and television dramas for more than 40 years and as co-founder of Left Bank Pictures he is one of the UK’s biggest producers of film and television drama, with series such as Wallander, Outlander and The Crown to its name.

His outstanding contribution to broadcasting has been recognised with special awards from both BAFTA and Royal Television Society.

Christine Langan started her career as a drama producer at Granada, where she worked with Andy to produce a string of successes, including Cold Feet. She went on to run BBC films for seven years, where the many award-winning films her team produced included Made in Dagenham, Pride, Philomena and Far From The Madding Crowd.

On her watch BBC Films racked up the most BAFTA nominations they had ever received in a single year. She then spent nearly four years as CEO of Baby Cow Productions before setting up her own production company, Bonnie Productions, nearly three years ago.

Stephen Frears, who directed The Queen, has had two Academy Award nominations in his career, won three BAFTAs and an Emmy and received many more nominations. Earlier this year he received a knighthood for his contribution to the film and television industries. Among his best-known films are My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liasons and The Grifters and the television series, A Very English Scandal.

This is a unique opportunity to talk to them about this film specifically and about drama production in TV and film more generally.

Book tickets on the Chiswick Cinema website.

chiswickcinema.co.uk

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Andy Harries and his family are long term residents of Chiswick.

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Shaun the Sheep – Q&A with Aardman lead animator Will Becher

How do they do it? Meet Aardman’s Lead Animator on Shaun the Sheep Movie

It has been more than 30 years since Nick Park’s Creature Comforts won the first Academy Award for Aardman. The loveable zoo characters put the Bristol based animation firm on the map, paving the way for a succession of Wallace and Gromit films between 1989 and 1995: A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, which have become firm favourites in the British Christmas TV schedule ever since.

Since then Aardman animation has gone global; their stop-motion and clay animation techniques earning them over $1 billion as of February 2020. One of their favourite characters, Shaun the Sheep, has had a career all of his own, branching out from his first appearance in A Close Shave to lead his flock through its own TV series, first broadcast in the UK on CBBC and ultimately broadcast in 180 countries.

The series inspired a TV spin-off Timmy Time, featuring Shaun’s younger cousin and aimed at younger viewers, and the full length feature film, Shaun the Sheep Movie, (2015) which we will be screening at this year’s Chiswick in Film festival.

Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer’s Llamas was a television Christmas special which followed Shaun’s movie success, and a second feature film, Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon followed in 2019. The short film, Shaun the Sheep: The Flight Before Christmas, was released on Netflix on 3 December 2021.

Shaun has a flock of followers across several generations and we are pleased to introduce one of his creators, Lead Animator Will Becher, alongside Rob Sprackling, who has been part of the writing team at Aardman, amongst his scriptwriting and directing credits (Gnomeo and Juliet; Mike Bassett: England Manager).

Images above: Will Becher leading a stop-motion masterclass for Aardman; Rob Sprackling

Who knew where a summer spent making clay wings for animated chickens might lead?

Will began his career in the late nineties when he landed a summer work placement on Chicken Run – building ‘clay wings’ in the model making department. During his degree in Animation in Edinburgh he kept in contact with Aardman, and on graduation was invited by Nick Park to join the animation team on Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, becoming one of Aardman’s youngest ever feature film animators. The film went on to win an Academy Award and a BAFTA.

He then became Lead Character Animator on both The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and Shaun the Sheep Movie and went on to direct Shaun the Sheep Series 5 before taking the role of Animation Director on Early Man, about a group of Stone Age valley dwellers who have to defend their land from bronze-using invaders in a football match.

In 2018 he co-directed the BAFTA nominated A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.

Will and Rob, and more importantly Shaun himself, will be at Chiswick Cinema for a Q&A after the screening of the Shaun the Sheep Movie at 10.30am on Saturday 30 September.

I have so many questions! But this is a session for children and their parents / carers and the floor is all yours …

Book tickets on the Chiswick Cinema website.

chiswickcinema.co.uk

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Rob Sprackling and his family are long term residents of Chiswick.

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Mike Bassett England Manager – Q&A with Ricky Tomlinson, Rob Sprackling, Steve Barron and Mihir Bose

Meet Ricky Tomlinson and the creative team behind cult football film Mike Bassett England Manager

This film could only have come from a lifelong England fan – the caricatures of England managers, assistant managers and players from the 1990s (recognisable if you are (a) an England football fan and (b) old enough to remember them) and the terrible roasting they got from both fans and the press.

It goes a long way to explaining why we have never won a World Cup since 1966, despite having the footballing talent, the money and the support from fans, according to the film’s creator Rob Sprackling.

Ricky Tomlinson, at the height of his fame with The Royle Family, was an inspired choice for the role of the hapless football manager who had only ever managed clubs in the lower leagues, but thought, when asked, that he would like to have a crack at the England manager’s job, despite his lack of top-flight experience and the inevitability that he would be pilloried for it.

Ricky Tomlinson, director Steve Barron, creator Rob Sprackling and former editor of BBC Sports News, journalist Mihir Bose, will be talking to former BBC Radio 5Live presenter Julian Worricker after a screening of Mike Bassett England Manager at 2pm on Saturday 30 September.

“I watched a documentary called ‘The Impossible Job‘ and having watched every England game for the past 40 years and seen 15 or so managers come and go, it is, it’s an impossible job” says Rob. “Brian Clough was quite obviously the best manager we had. Football fans adored him, but he was never chosen as England manager. They wouldn’t pick him because he was too mouthy.”

Graham Taylor was given the job in 1990. Critics in the media complained that he had never won a major trophy, and sure enough, England qualified for the 1992 European Championship but were knocked out in the group stages, and Taylor resigned in November 1993, after the team failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.

Taylor was characterised as a turnip by the Sun newspaper, for losing to the Swedes.

“The early ’90s were a disaster” says Rob, for which he squarely blames a cowardly FA for making a boring and unambitious leadership choice, not only then but for most the of 40 years he has been going to England matches.

“That’s why we haven’t won the World Cup since 1966. Not because we haven’t had the players. We’ve had the players, the money and the support from the fan base.”

But it gave him the idea for his cult football film which, when it opened in cinemas in 2001, came in as the third biggest opening of the week, up against big Hollywood films.

Image above: Ricky Tomlinson in Mike Bassett England Manager, fielding questions at a particularly rough press conference

“The story is about a man who is an incompetent buffoon but he’d trying to do his best. Everyone abandons him – the FA, his wife, the fans, and he is punished beyond all reason, which is inevitable.”

It is very funny, the more so if you understand the rules of football and recognise the specific characters, but it is also quite poignant. It is also still very popular. Both football coach and player Gordon Strachan, and comedian Jack Whitehall have declared it to be their favourite film.

There are still Mike Bassett fan sites and a Twitter (X) account, and Ricky Tomlinson finds that when people are not shouting “my arse” at him (his catch phrase from The Royle Family), they shout “four, four f***ing two”, (Mike Bassett’s preferred, but uninspired formation), in proportionately two-thirds to a third of salutations.

It took seven years for Rob and his co-writer John Smith to get the green light, despite catching the interest of Four Weddings and a Funeral producer Duncan Kenworthy.

“It looked as if it wasn’t going to happen. They kept prevaricating”.

But when it did happen, the filming all took place in just three months.

“Ricky Tomlinson said ‘yes’ straight away, and we filmed it at the Maracanã Stadium in Brazil and at Wembley Stadium. Pelé was in it, and he was brilliant.”

Image above: Ricky Tomlinson in Mike Bassett England Manager, lifting the trophy

The film has the distinction of being only the second feature film (after Star Wars) to be filmed digitally. Director Steve Barron was able to replicate the huge crowds that would have filled the stadium by filming a relatively small group of extras and painting the whole stadium with the repeated image – something which is a common technique now but inventive in 2001.

Keeping track of the footballers they’d hired for the film after they’d discovered the nightclubs of Rio sounds like something of a mission and there was a lot of drinking involved (method acting, no doubt) but they managed to get it done on time and on a shoestring budget.

They had access to Wembley Stadium because the old stadium was being pulled down, but they had to go to B&Q and by synthetic ‘grass’ to play on, and of course they had a game there once they’d finished filming – you would, wouldn’t you? – with a mock trophy presentation and everything.

There was a TV spin off filmed at Brentford FC afterwards.

Ricky Tomlinson, Rob Sprackling, Steve Barron, Mihir Bose and Julian Worricker will be talking about Mike Bassett England Manager in a Q&A after the 2pm screening on Saturday 30 September.

Book tickets on the Chiswick Cinema website.

chiswickcinema.co.uk

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Rob Sprackling and his family are long term residents of Chiswick.

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Rye Lane – Q&A with Nathan Bryon and Suzette Llewellyn

Meet Nathan Bryon, writer (with Tom Melia) of Rye Lane

Rye Lane appears to have refreshed the parts other films haven’t reached, to paraphrase the old Heineken advert (badly). The romantic comedy set in Peckham, which premiered at the Sundance Festival earlier this year, received this review from a South London punter on social media:

‘A Wes Anderson style comedy rom com set in south London that made me laugh and warmed my cold empty heart lmao. As a south Londoner it was so nice to see all of these places I frequent almost daily captured so beautifully in a movie.

‘The story line Is just like the kinda story you hear from a mate about their latest escapade. Idk how to explain it but this film felt like home to me in a way no film has ever made me feel. This is coming from someone that generally doesn’t enjoy watching films as they tend to drag on for way longer than needed but I didn’t get that feeling with this. I enjoyed every moment.’

Image above: Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson in Rye Lane

That is possibly the nicest review a film maker could hope to have, and the appreciation from a passing punter has been matched by the paid critics, in America and in the UK:

‘This is a rom-com with heart, wit and style’ – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

‘What makes the film relatable is how achingly human it all is’ – Meagan Jordan, Rolling Stone

‘Rye Lane asks you to fall in love with Dom and Yas, but failing that, it will have you hopelessly smitten with its South London setting.’ – Alison Willmore, New York Magazine

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 98% score.

Image above: Tom Melia and Nathan Bryon; Youtube

Here at home, Mark Kermode gave it four stars in The Guardian and said if left audiences with ‘renewed confidence in next-wave British film making.

‘Rye Lane blends the warmth and charm of a formulaic love story with the colourfully street-smart grit of Brit pics such as Shola Amoo’s A Moving Image or more recently Reggie Yates’s Pirates.

In a particular compliment to writers Nathan Bryon and Tom Melia, Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent said it:

‘doesn’t demand two A-listers shoulder the entire job of summoning chemistry from a dead-eyed script’.

The stars are instead up-and-coming actors Vivian Oparah and David Jonsson. This was director Raine Allen-Miller’s debut film and also co-writer Nathan Bryon’s first feature film. Nathan will be talking about the success of Rye Lane with fellow actor Suzette Llewellyn (Surgical Spirit, Doctors, EastEnders) this weekend for the Chiswick In Film festival, after the 7.30pm screening on Saturday 30 September.

Nathan’s other claim to fame is that he once lived in Chiswick (the film’s slightly tenuous connection with Chiswick! Suzette still does). He has always known his passion was for telling stories, he told an audience at the BFI in April, and he is of the opinion that you should try anything – and everything – at least once.

He won the Waterstones 2020 Children’s Book Prize with his debut story book, Look Up!, with illustrator Dapo Adeola; he published a play in 2019 called Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency and acted the part of Obi in four episodes of the BAFTA nominated TV series Ghosts (2020 – 22). He has also written for television: he wrote and co-created Bloods, a sitcom on Sky Comedy which debuted in 2021.

Images above: Nathan Bryon; Suzette Llewellyn

Success appears to follow him, which cannot be accidental. He has no formal training, but has perfected the art of ‘hustling’, he told the audience at the BFI. He and a friend had made a short film and they had an idea for a cartoon series.

‘We used to try and guess email addresses for producers, and one day, for the first time, our emails didn’t bounce back.

‘Within five minutes, the Head of Warner Brothers’ emailed my friend, inviting him to tour the studios, and a little later, I got a similar invitation from the company behind Rastamouse – a really successful cartoon at the time. Not only did I end up writing for Rastamouse, but the company ended up buying my show idea too.’

The story of Rye Lane starts when two twenty-somethings who are both suffering from bad break-ups happen to meet at the opening of an art exhibition. The script was apparently the product of ‘a drunken 4am trip to KFC’.

Nathan and his co-writer Tom Melia liked classic romantic comedies like When Harry Met Sally, but wanted to make a film in which the lead actors were Black and the setting was somewhere that showed ‘the nuanced, colourful aspects of London that aren’t just London Bridge or Big Ben’.

They also wanted the film not to end in tragedy.

‘Black love in film so often ends in tragedy.’

They managed to get funding from BBC Films, The British Film Institute and Searchlight Pictures. Let’s hope it wins some awards.

Come and ask meet Nathan and Suzette on Saturday and talk to them after the 7.30pm screening of Rye Lane.

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Suzette Llewellyn and her family are long term residents of Chiswick.

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Victim – Q&A with Stephen K Amos

Meet Stephen K Amos, talking to Chiswick Cinema’s Chris Parker about the impact of the 1961 British crime thriller Victim, starring Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms

Victim was neither a big box office hit nor a great critical success at the time it came out, despite Dirk Bogarde being one of the most popular actors in British films at the time, but it was a landmark film.

Later it was considered by many to be the film in which Bogarde gave the best performance of his career. It was the subject matter which ensured its initial reception was muted and which gives the film its significance.

Image above: Victim; photograph IMDb

‘Dearden’s film conjures up the skin-crawlingly nasty and whispery world of blackmail in the tatty streets of London’s West End’

The film, directed by Basil Dearden and written by Janet Green and John McCormick, is about the blackmail of gay men at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain. It was the first English-language film to use the word “homosexual”, which meant it was banned initially in the United States and British censors gave it an X rating, (though now it is rated PG/12).

Writing about it in the Guardian in 2017 when it was re-released in UK cinemas in a restored digital print, Peter Bradshaw says:

‘Dearden’s film conjures up the skin-crawlingly nasty and whispery world of blackmail in the tatty streets of London’s West End … Bogarde has a kind of darkly troubled poise that is utterly of its time.’

Stephen K Amos, an actor known better for his stand-up comedy, talks to Chiswick Cinema’s Chris Parker about the impact the film made and his experience as a gay man, of shifting public attitudes since the law on homosexuality was changed in 1967.

It was “scary” to come out as gay when he was a young man in London in the 1980s, he says, and it is still not free from risk to be identified as gay, as the recent attack on a couple in Clapham has shown.

Image above: Sylvia Syms and Dirk Bogarde in Victim (1961); ITV and Park Circus

Plot

Bogarde plays Melville Farr, a successful, apparently happily married barrister with a thriving law practice. He has a romantic friendship with a young working-class gay man, Jack “Boy” Barrett. When Barrett tries to get in touch Farr thinks he is attempting to blackmail him but in fact it is Barrett who is being blackmailed.

The blackmailers have got hold of a photograph of the two of them together, in which Farr has his arm around Barrett and Barrett is crying. Barrett is picked up by the police, and realising it is only a matter of time before the details of their relationship come out, he hangs himself in his police cell.

When Farr finds this out he makes it his mission to take on the blackmail ring and see them punished even though he knows the court case and resulting publicity will destroy his career and probably also his marriage.

In the story it is made clear the two men had not had sex; in fact all the photograph shows is the breaking of a social taboo.

Image above: The house where Melville Farr and his wife Laura live on Chiswick Mall; ITV and Park Circus

Chiswick scenes

The house where Farr lives with his wife Laura is on Chiswick Mall. In the film the blackmailers vandalise it, painting “FARR IS QUEER” on his garage door. Laura challenges him on breaking his promise to her when they married that he would not continue to have homosexual relationships and she leaves him, but ultimately she comes back to him.

There is a scene where he goes to see her at work, which was shot at Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School in Hammersmith, and another in which they are talking by the river.

Images above: Sequences filmed at Ravenscourt Park Preparatory School in Hammersmith and by the river; ITV and Park Circus

There is also a sequence where he is seen walking in the churchyard of St Nicholas Church, lost in contemplation.

Images above: Sequence filmed at St Nicholas churchyard; ITV and Park Circus

“The most startlingly outspoken film Britain has ever produced”

Victim is credited with having had a big impact on public opinion, coming out four years after the publication of the Wolfenden report in 1957 and six years before the Sexual Offences Act was passed in 1967.

The Wolfenden committee was set up after a string of high profile men were prosecuted for homosexuality, including Conservative politician Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, West Country landowner Michael Pitt-Rivers, distinguished actor and theatre John Gielgud, and journalist, novelist and playwright Peter Wildeblood.

The committee recommended that “homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence” but its findings were debated for ten years before it led to a change in the law.

Producer Michael Relph and director Basil Dearden admitted the film was designed to be “an open protest against Britain’s law that being a homosexual is a criminal act”.

Images above: Dirk Bogarde in Victim; photograph IMDb

A London magazine called it “the most startlingly outspoken film Britain has ever produced”.

Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, wrote:

“The very fact that homosexuality as a condition is presented honestly and unsensationally, with due regard for the dilemma and the pathos, makes this an extraordinary film.”

When it was shown at the Venice Film Festival, an Italian critic commented:

“at last the British have stopped being hypocrites”.

Many people believed it had an impact in bringing about a change in the law and it also had an impact on the morale of gay men at the time, that someone was shining a light on the way they were victimised.

Peter McEnery, who was just starting out in his career when he played Barrett, was not by his own admission particularly liberal or knowledgeable about gay culture, he was just thrilled to be given such a good part and to be acting with the great Dirk Bogarde. Later he wrote:

‘When I finished the movie I went straight into the deep end in Stratford with the RSC, so I really wasn’t able to concentrate on what happened to Victim. But I did get a lot of letters from the gay community at the time, largely saying: “We all thank you,” which I thought was very touching.’

Image above: Dirk Bogarde and Sylvia Syms in Victim; photograph IMDb

Cast

The part of Melville Farr was offered to Jack Hawkins, James Mason and Stewart Granger before it was offered to Dirk Bogarde. They all turned it down but Bogarde accepted it at once.

He never came out as gay, despite writing copious memoirs, but he lived with his business manager Anthony Forwood and was always assumed to be gay. Speaking about the film in 1965 he said:

“For the first time I was playing my own age. At Rank, the fixed rule was that I had to look pretty. Victim ended all that nonsense… It was the wisest decision I ever made in my cinematic life.”

Years later he wrote in his biography:

“It is extraordinary, in this over-permissive age [c. 1988], to believe that this modest film could ever have been considered courageous, daring or dangerous to make. It was, in its time, all three.”

Sylvia Syms also accepted the part of Laura quite happily. Film critic Mark Kermode has suggested this might have been because she had worked with John Gielgud and also because a family friend had killed himself after being accused of being gay.

The cast included a number of other young actors who have gone on to have big careers in theatre, film and television and to become well-known faces, including Peter McEnery, Nigel Stock, Alan Howard and Frank Thornton.

Video above: Victim trailer

You can see the film, re-released by ITV and Park Circus, here: youtube.com/watch

Chiswick In Film festival 2022

We showed two other Dirk Bogarde films at the first Chiswick In Film festival in October 2022: The Servant (1961) and Darling (1965), with sequences filmed at Chiswick House and Strand on the Green respectively. His co-star in The Servant, Sarah Miles, paid a surprise visit to the festival.

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De-Lovely – Q&A with Kevin McNally

Meet Kevin McNally, talking to Bridget Osborne about the Cole Porter bio-pic shot in Chiswick and his career in film and TV

Kevin McNally’s TV and film career started in 1976, with a part in I Claudius, the BBC drama which made such a huge impact back in the days when we all watched the same things at the same time (currently available to watch again on iPlayer).

Since then he has made some 36 films and 60 TV series as well as radio and theatre appearances and video games. He is best known for the role of Joshamee Gibbs in Pirates of the Caribbean – in five films spanning 20 years.

A long term Chiswick resident, he is always busy and seems if anything to be getting busier, so we are especially pleased that he is able to join us on Sunday night, 1 October, for the grand finale of the festival – a screening of the Cole Porter bio-pic De-Lovely, which features sequences shot in the gardens of Chiswick House and in which he has a part (a singing part, no less).

I will be talking to him not just about that film, but about his career as a whole, after the screening of De-Lovely at 7.30pm.

Image above: De Lovely filming at Chiswick House & Gardens; photograph Dennis Firminger

De-Lovely (2004), directed by Irwin Winkler, tells the story of the life and career of the American composer and songwriter Cole Porter, from his first meeting with his wife, Linda Lee Thomas, until his death in 1964.

Known for his witty lyrics and upbeat tunes, Cole Porter’s songs became popular in the 1930s and ’40s through Broadway musicals, with classics such as Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love from the musical Paris, Begin the Beguine from the musical comedy Jubilee and It’s De-Lovely from the stage musical Red, Hot and Blue.

Unlike many successful Broadway composers, Porter wrote the lyrics as well as the music for his songs. After a serious horseback riding accident in 1937, he was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work. His most successful shows had mainly been in the 1920s and ’30s, though he made a triumphant comeback in 1948 with Kiss Me Kate.

It is a tribute to the popularity of his work that many of his musicals, such as Anything Goes, are still performed (there was a production of Anything Goes at the Barbican only last year).

Born in 1891, Cole Porter met his wife Linda Lee Thomas in 1918 and they married the following year. She realised he was gay, but the marriage was convenient for both of them and they remained devoted until her death in 1954.

He was born into money and made more with his own success, and was known for his extravagant lifestyle. His story is told in the film as a series of flashbacks as he lies on his deathbed.

Kevin McNally will be talking about this film and others from his prolific career, to the editor of The Chiswick Calendar, Bridget Osborne, after the screening of De-Lovely at 7.30pm on Sunday 1 October.

The Chiswick In Film Festival, which was started in 2022, is a celebration of Chiswick’s connections with the film industry – both as a location for sequences in many films and TV series and as a place where many people working in the industry call home. Kevin and his family are long term residents of Chiswick. He is married to actor Phyllis Logan (Downton Abbey).

The film festival is a joint collaboration between The Chiswick Calendar and Chiswick Cinema, and Chiswick based film professionals Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick Flower Market celebrates third birthday

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market team, left to right: Jeremy Day, Kathleen Mitra, Chrys Watson, Ollie Saunders, Steve Nutt, Karen Liebreich, Jennie Figaro; Photograph by Jack Emsley

Organisers, traders, supporters and councillors gather for anniversary event

Volunteers, team members, traders, supporters and councillors met at Room2 Hometel on Windmill Road to celebrate the third birthday of the first successful market in Chiswick.

Liana from Caketivate, who has a stall selling realistic-looking flower muffins at the market, made a gorgeous birthday cake, showing the Flower Market’s latest poster, by celebrated artist Anita Klein.

The team says it is working on future plans, including a lovely Christmas market, and it is leading on proposals to redesign Old Market Place, to coincide with the development of the old police station site.

Image above: Chiswick Flower Market’s birthday cake

The next Chiswick Flower Market takes place on Sunday 1 October, 9.00am-4.00pm at Old Market Place, Chiswick High Road, W4 2DR.

Posting about the event on Instagram organisers said:

“Now we are 3! A lovely party last night at @room2hometels to thank everyone who helps make the flower market happen each month, including our volunteers, traders and local leaders! We had the lovely surprise of an amazing cake with our @anitakleinart poster thanks to Liana at @caketivate

Cllr Jack Emsley, who was also at the event,  said on Twitter:

Had a great time celebrating the #Chiswick Flower Market’s third birthday yesterday evening! Huge congrats to the team for all their success so far – looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store!”

Ealing’s first dedicated parkour facility opens

Image above: Opening of the parkour facility at Llamas Park

Council say demand for parkour is high 

The first dedicated parkour facility in Ealing has officially been opened, drawing the attention of local youngsters who were eager to demonstrate their parkour skills. Councillor Polly Knewstub, Cabinet Member for Thriving Communities, presided over the opening of the Lammas Parkour Park on Friday, 15 September.

Parkour is among the sports with the fastest-growing popularity in the country and has been featured in action films such as Casino Royale and Prince of Persia. The young people who turned out for the official opening had the opportunity to try out their skills, guided by professional parkour trainers.

Cllr Knewstub commented:

“I’m pleased to see the turnout of young people and families at the parkour park’s opening. This facility is the result of our efforts to listen to residents’ requests for amenities in the borough and collaborate with them to make it happen.

“Parkour’s growth in popularity offers an outdoor activity that promotes well-being and allows people to enjoy our green spaces. It’s also quite captivating to watch!”

Ealing already boasts two well-established and successful skatepark areas, but until now, it lacked parkour facilities, though part of the attraction of parkour to youngsters has always been that it was not a managed sport. The thrill of doing it was partly the complete lack of safety checks as people jumped from one wall to another.

Members of the public played a role in designing the parkour area, ensuring the use of natural materials to blend the facility seamlessly into the park environment.

Lammas Park, Ealing’s first park, was purchased by the council in 1881. Originally agricultural land, it was named Lammas because it was the time (1 August) when harvested land could be used for cattle grazing. The park opened to the public on 1 August, 1883.

Ealing Council is pleased to report that this year a ‘record-breaking’ 26 local parks in the borough were honoured with Green Flags, recognising their well-maintained status as green spaces.

Police appeal after sexual assault on 272 bus

Image above: Man wanted in connection with indecent exposure and sexual assault

Man sought after indecent exposure at 8.30am on the 272 bus

Detectives have issued a grainy image of a man they wish to speak to in connection with an offence of exposure and sexual assault on board a 272 bus. The incident occurred on a 272 bus on Thursday, 17 August at around 8.30am in the area of Askew Road, in Shepherd’s Bush.

To better make out the man’s face, viewing the picture on a mobile phone or zooming out on your desktop helps.

Detective Superintendent Ross Morrell said:

“The bus had several passengers on board and this offence has understandably caused serious distress and concern to those on board.

“Do you recognise this man? Can you help us with our enquiries?”

If you recognise the person pictured or can help police identify him, or alternatively have any information that may assist the investigation, then call Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, quoting CAD 4047/17AUG23.

Royal Parks issue warning to public not to go near rutting deer in Richmond Park

Image above: A Richmond Park visitor getting too close to a stag; photograph Royal Parks

Aggressive stags undergo physical changes, including an increase of testosterone and the thickness of their necks during mating season

The Royal Parks have issued a warning to people visiting Richmond Park during rutting (mating) season. The male deer undergo “behavioural and physical changes” during autumn, from September to early November, and will roar and clash antlers in a bid to fight off rivals and attract as many females as possible to mate with.

In the lead up to the rut, there are a number of physiological changes male deer go through, including an increase of testosterone, the doubling of the thickness of their necks, the larynx becoming more prominent and the tongue changing shape.

The rutting season attracts photographers to Richmond Park from all over the country, but the Royal Parks urge visitors to be extra vigilant in the run up to the rut, as a stag can weigh around 25 stone and can have lethally sharp antlers. Being hit by a stag travelling at full speed of up to 30mph, the charity says, is the equivalent of being mown down by a motorbike.

Members of the public are being urged to keep at least 50 metres away from the animals at all times and should not ‘wave food or mobile phones’ in the their faces. Dogs should also be kept on leashes, or walked elsewhere, and visitors should never stand between two rutting dear.

In 2022, there were 14 incidents in Richmond Park with deer reported to the Royal Parks, a significant increase from the nine reported in 2021 and six reported in 2020.

“Visitors will notice a significant change in the deer from mid-September,” explains Bill Swan, Bushy Park’s Assistant Park Manager. “The first obvious change is the sound of deer bellowing in the parks as a warning to their rivals. Soon enough, the dominant male deer will start to round up the females, and fighting with other deer may ensue in a bid to hold onto their harems.

“Although this all sounds incredibly exciting and a sight to behold, visitors need to be extremely vigilant, otherwise they could risk severe injury.

“It’s important to understand that deer may seem relaxed and subdued one minute, and then the next start suddenly chasing and fighting each other. Please don’t risk your safety, and that of children, by getting in the middle of the action. Keep your distance, and bring binoculars if you want a closer look.”

To report an injury to a dog or a deer, contact Richmond Park: 0300 061 2200 or email richmond@royalparks.org.uk.

Disinformation campaign on social media about ULEZ a deliberate attempt at manipulation says Mayor

Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent – “we have no idea who was behind the campaign” – Sadiq Khan

The Guardian reports this morning that “hundreds of thousands of dollars” were spent on an anti-Ulez campaign on Twitter to manipulate the public.

Sadiq Khan is speaking at a conference in New York today (19 September) and is expected to appeal to the big social media companies to meet their responsibilities and “bear down on the attempts to distort truth”.

According to remarks released before his speech, the Mayor is expected to tell the conference:

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the anti-Ulez online manipulation campaign on Twitter alone” but “we have no idea who was behind the campaign”.

The Guardian says research conducted by the social media analysts Valent in July concluded there was evidence of “an extensive online campaign targeted to undermine support for the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez)” before the Uxbridge byelection.

It found that 48% of the accounts on Twitter, now known as X, mentioning Ulez were created after November 2022, and of those about 90% “exhibited signs of inauthenticity”, using generic names and with a high proportion of fake followers.

Image above: Valent graphic from their report: Evidence of Online Manipulation in UK public Debate

Effort to undermine Ulez ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

Over the past three years, Valent has investigated disinformation and online manipulation in almost a dozen different contexts around the world.

‘In the UK, although we saw indications manipulation was taking place, we struggled to find concrete evidence’ they say. ‘We now know why that is; the manipulation taking place in the UK is much more sophisticated than the hashtag spamming you might find in Africa or the Middle East.’

The effort to undermine ULEZ is just the tip of the iceberg, they say, as they only examined Twitter and Twitter not the most significant platform for disinformation in the UK.

‘Larger manipulative activities might be happening on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and TikTok.’

The research on Ulez was carried out as part of a Labour party investigation as to why they lost the Uxbridge by-election, which they were widely expected to win.

Mayor Khan says he accepts there are “genuine concerns about the impact of Ulez expansion”, but is concerned about deliberate manipulation paid for by unknown sources.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Train strikes announced in late September and October

Image above: Chiswick Station; photograph George Westwood

Two more sets of strike dates announced in long-running dispute over pay and conditions

The train drivers’ union has announced two more days of strikes and an overtime ban over pay. ASLEF members will walk out on Saturday 30 September and Wednesday 4 October. The second date will have an impact on the end of the Conservative Party Conference, taking place in Manchester.

An overtime ban will be in place across the UK rail network on Friday 29 September and from 2-6 October (Monday to Friday).

The 16 companies affected are: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, c2c, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, Great Western Railway, Island Line, LNER, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

No end in sight for dispute

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, said:

“While we regret having to take this action – we don’t want to lose a day’s pay, or disrupt passengers, as they try to travel by train – the government, and the employers, have forced us into this position.

Our members have not, now, had a pay rise for four years – since 2019 – and that’s not right when prices have soared in that time. Train drivers, perfectly reasonably, want to be able to buy now what they could buy four years ago.”

ASLEF and the RMT, which represents other rail workers, have been in a dispute with train companies over pay and working conditions, leading to repeated strike action in the last year and a half.

The latest proposals put up by train operators in the spring were rejected, halting progress. The proposals included changes to working practices that would allow for 4% pay increases one year and 4% the following.

The Rail Delivery Group, which oversees operations of the 16 affected companies, insists pay rises must be linked to changes.

“The union have rejected a fair and affordable offer without putting it to their members,” a spokesperson told the BBC.

“We ask the Aslef leadership and executive to recognise the very real financial challenge the industry is facing and work with us to deliver a more reliable and robust railway for the future.”

Rocks Lane Padel team win national championship

Image above L to R: Ale Grilo, Rafa Vega, Pablo Delgado, Chris Warren, Guille Ibanez, Chris Dolphin, Sam MacNeil, Drew Warren.

“This prestigious victory cements Rocks Lane’s position as UK’s leading centre”

Rocks Lane Padel first team have won the national finals, securing an outstanding victory against their strongest rivals, Roehampton at the LTA National Club Finals.

The weekend saw a historic first with Rocks Lane having two teams out of the eight teams that qualified from the whole of the UK.

Outstanding performances from both Rocks Lane Padel teams meant that the Champions Trophy was taken back to Chiswick and a 5th place finish for the 2nd Team, which means Rocks Lane will have a minimum of two teams in the finals next year.

“This prestigious victory cements Rocks Lane’s position as UK’s leading centre with an established padel academy programme which provides competitive opportunities for all ages and abilities” say Rocks Lane sports centre.

“The sky is no limit for ambitious players and Rocks Lane Padel!”

Their padel performance player pathway supports top performance players whose goals are to succeed at the highest levels.

This is what Chris Warren has to say about Rocks Lane’s prestigious National victory:

“What an incredible achievement from all of our padel team at Chiswick, both on and off court. These tremendous performances are a collaboration of planning, hard work and attention to detail by all involved.

“The future is bright for all levels of padel at Rocks Lane with the prospect of two more courts (taking the total to 12) being added to our facility soon, giving more opportunities for more people to try this wonderfully diverse, inclusive and rewarding sport. Vamos Rocks Lane Padel!”

The following Rocks Lane Padel Team players, not pictured, also contributed to the team’s victory: Jose Forniles, Muse Armengol, Tobi Cordoba, Riccardo Campos and Simon Garforth-Bles

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Episode 36: A perfect profession for spying

Former BBC Sports News editor Mihir Bose, Economics editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political analyst Nigel Dudley continue setting the world to rights with their podcast Three Old Hacks. This week their subject is spies, and how the journalistic profession lends itself to approaches from foreign powers.


More Platforms

Listen to more episodes here.

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing threeoldhacks@outlook.com, we’d love to hear from you!

Persuasion review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image above: Persuasion; Theatre at the Tabard

By Simon Thomsett

As the Chiswick Book Festival comes to an end the Theatre at the Tabard keeps the spirit alive with a run of Dot Productions’ staging of Jane Austen’s Persuasion which has just opened.  The adaptation by Dawn Bush nips along at pace and somehow in 90 minutes of playing time gets through the main events of the story with an enthusiastic cast of just five, three of whom swop roles throughout.

At the centre of the story is Anne Elliot, living reluctantly in Bath (“It’s always wet”) and apparently given up on love, not exactly helped by her excessively vain father who, when he can tear himself away from the mirror taunts her: ‘you’ll never catch a husband…’

Enter Captain Wentworth, a face from the past and one who was rejected then and still bears the scars. His discomfort in encountering the rather aloof Anne is put aside when he is aggressively pursued by Louisa Musgrove, one of the many supporting group of friends and family who populate the sub-plot heavy background.

Images above: Anne and Louisa; Wentworth and Louisa; Theatre at the Tabard

Susie Garvey-Williams as Anne, is on stage throughout and watches over events; she does stoical very well but isn’t really stretched, even as the odds begin to stack up against any possible happy outcome for her.

The same can be said for Dom Thomson’s Wentworth who is called upon mostly to stand straight and look dashing, although he gets to add a flick of his hair and a wink at the audience at one point.

Image above: Sophie Todd and Matthew Burcombe; Theatre at the Tabard

More fun is to be had with the other characters: Sophie Todd whose ever smiling Louisa threatens to ensnare Wentworth is matched by the elaborately be-wigged Matthew Burcombe who starts out as Anne’s father and then changes in and out of other parts, frantically trying to keep up with his role changes with knowing confusion and a pleasing pomposity.

Best of all is Holly Barnes who excels as hypochondriac Mary Musgrove and a practical Mrs Croft, topping it all off with a later appearance complete with comedy moustache as another charming young gentleman whose motives are suspect at best.

Pete Gallagher’s production has other nice touches, not least the in jokes shared with the audience, nods and winks and feigned confusion as to where and even who they are at any one moment gives the show a lightness of touch that seems just right.

It all gets a bit too fussy on occasion, in particular when pieces of furniture are shifted hither and thither rather distractingly, but overall, the effect is gently enjoyable. I imagine that Austen fans will find much to enjoy, and it looks likely to be another popular choice for the Tabard.

Persuasion runs to Saturday 7 October.

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.

Chiswick In Film festival – 29 September – 1 October 2023

Writers, directors, producers and actors –  Ricky Tomlinson, Kevin McNally, Stephen K Amos, and Shaun the Sheep all in one weekend

Downton Abbey‘s Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol (aka Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore), are looking forward to this year’s Chiswick In Film festival, Friday 29 September – Sunday 1 October.

The two well-known Chiswick actors, who played a starring role in the first Chiswick In Film festival last year, have made us a promotional video.

Video: Phyllis Logan and Lesley Nicol

A weekend of films and Q&As with Chiswick connections – 29 September – 1 October

It’s great to have two such well-loved actors supporting the festival, which celebrates Chiswick’s connections with the film industry both on screen and off.

Following last year’s hit weekend, which featured exclusive Q&As with Sarah Miles, the cast and crew of Downton Abbey and the team behind Misbehaviour amongst others, we are proud to tell you there will be an entire weekend of in-person Q&A screening events from Friday 29 September until Sunday 1 October, with some cracking films and some of the top names in the industry talking about them.

Meet Shaun the Sheep in person. Lead animator Will Becher from Aardman Animations will be there with the top sheep himself. Probably the first time Ricky Tomlinson has been pipped to the top billing by a sheep. He will be there talking about cult football comedy Mike Bassett, England Manager, with sports journalist Mihir Bose, the film’s creator, Chiswick resident Rob Sprackling,  and director Steve Barron.

A year on from the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II we will be playing the film The Queen and talking about it with producers, Chiswick resident Andy Harries and Christine Langan and director Sir Stephen Frears.

And we will be showing Victim, the 1961 Dirk Bogarde film shot in Chiswick, with scenes shot at St Nicholas Church and along Chiswick Mall. Stephen K Amos discusses how the film was a landmark in changing public attitudes towards homosexuality.

Actor Suzette Llewellyn will be talking to Nathan Bryon, the writer of Rye Lane, the Peckham romance which premiered at the Sundance Festival in January to great critical acclaim.

And topping off the weekend Kevin McNally will be talking about his career before a screening of De-Lovely, the Cole Porter biopic shot in Chiswick. Kevin has appeared in everything from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and The Long Good Friday (1980) to the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He talks about his career spanning nearly 40 years, 36 films, 60 TV series as well as radio and theatre productions.

Book now for the following films at chiswickcinema.co.uk. Chiswick Cinema Platinum Members go free.

Programme

Image above: Helen Mirren as The Queen

Friday 29 September, 7.30pm  – The Queen

Q&A with Andy Harries (producer), Christine Langan (producer) and Sir Stephen Frears (director), hosted by Chiswick Calendar editor Bridget Osborne.

After the death of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II struggles with her reaction to a sequence of events nobody could have predicted. Helen Mirren won the Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. It was nominated for a total of five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Directing.

The Chiswick connection: Producer Andy Harries lives in Chiswick, as did actress Sylvia Sims, with many scenes shot in the nearby Ealing Studios.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk/TheQueen

Image above: Shaun the Sheep Movie

Saturday 30 September, 10.30am – Shaun the Sheep Movie

Q&A with Will Becher (Aardman Animations) and hosted by Rob Sprackling (writer).

When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he bargained for. A mix up with the farmer, a caravan and a very steep hill lead them all to the Big City and it’s up to Shaun and the flock to return everyone safely to the green grass of home. Shaun the Sheep Movie was nominated for Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The Chiswick connection: Writer Rob Sprackling is a Chiswick resident. Screening generously supported by Room2, Chiswick.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk/ShauntheSheep

Image above: Ricky Tomlinson as Mike Bassett, England Manager

Saturday 30 September, 2pm – Mike Bassett England Manager

Q&A with Rob Sprackling (creator), Ricky Tomlinson (actor), Steve Barron (director), Mihir Bose (sports journalist) and hosted by Julian Worricker.

Mike Bassett is appointed England manager having only previous experience of managing in the English lower leagues. He is tasked with guiding the team to qualification for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Mike Bassett England Manager was nominated for Best British Film at the Empire Awards.

The Chiswick connection: Writer Rob Sprackling is a Chiswick resident.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk/MikeBassett

Image above: David Jonsson and Vivian Oparah in Rye Lane

Saturday 30 September, 7.30pm – Rye Lane

Q&A with writer Nathan Bryon and Suzette Llewellyn.

Two twenty-somethings both reeling from bad break-ups, who connect over the course of an eventful day in South London – Peckham romance which premiered at the Sundance Festival in January to critical acclaim.

The Chiswick connection: Suzette lives and Nathan used to live in Chiswick.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk/RyeLane

Image above: Dirk Bogarde in Victim; photograph George Courtney Ward

Sunday 1 October, 4pm – Victim

Q&A with special guest Stephen K Amos

A closeted lawyer risks his career to bring a blackmailer to justice. Dirk Bogarde was considered to have taken a huge risk making this film. It was the first British film to explicitly name homosexuality and deal with the theme sympathetically. He was a matinee idol and hugely popular, but any film about homosexuality was considered hugely controversial at the time. Despite his popularity, it was not shown in the US when it was released.

The film was credited with changing public opinion in Britain. It was nominated for Venice Film Festivals’ Golden Lion and two BAFTAs.

The Chiswick connection: Actress Sylvia Sims lived in Chiswick and the film features various Chiswick locations including Morton House on Chiswick Mall.

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co.uk/Victim

Image above: Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd in De-Lovely, with Kevin McNally on the right

Sunday 1 October, 7.30pm – De-Lovely

Q&A with Kevin McNally

An original musical portrait of American composer Cole Porter, played by Kevin Kline, filled with his unforgettable songs, featuring Kevin McNally.

Kevin, who has appeared in everything from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and The Long Good Friday (1980) to the Pirates of the Caribbean films, talks to Chiswick Calendar editor Bridget Osborne about his long career spanning nearly 40 years, 36 films, 60 TV series as well as radio and theatre productions.

The Chiswick connection: Actor Kevin McNally is a Chiswick resident, and scenes from the movie were filmed in Chiswick House. 

Book tickets: chiswickcinema.co..uk/De-Lovely

Young film makers competition

This year we are running a young film makers competition (for under 18s). Judged by Colin Firth and Michael Attenborough, the winners will be announced on Sunday and the winning film will be shown.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar